Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Cooking, Baking, Eating - Delights of a Lifetime - February 26, 2014

I have to admit, in recent years, my time in the kitchen has certainly waned.  I have
always loved to cook, though I didn't really begin in earnest until I was out of nursing
school.  Living in New Orleans as a young RN, I delighted in Creole concoctions,
practicing on my classmates and began acquiring what was to become a collection
of nearly five hundred cookbooks from all over the world.  Bananas Foster became
a signature dessert and one most requested by my three sons.  Perhaps this is 
what instilled the desire to become firefighters in Alex and Jeremy though I never
set our homestead ablaze.

Of course, I also enjoyed dining in restaurants as I traveled and added their 
cookbooks to my collection.  Notebooks of recipes clipped from the pages of 
Bon Appetit, Gourmet, Southern Living, Sunset, the Wednesday food newspaper
section, and the treasured recipes of friends were added to my files. 

In my mid-twenties, while living in Tampa, Florida, I took a Wilton cake decorating
course and, weekly, brought home my creations.  That grew a little tiresome when
people started requesting cake "donations" and didn't even provide the ingredients.
I had to learn to say no but learn I did.

For about six months, after moving to the San Francisco area, I even started a
catering business.  Following my back surgery, it just became too much physically.

Once I became a forensic nurse, with call for two different agencies, my time in the
kitchen became less in less.  As one of my colleagues said, "You can make toast
but you can't bake a cake."  Waiting for the dreaded beeper to go off interfered with
a lot of activities.

Once my job ended in budget cuts nearly five years ago, I got rid of nearly all my
cookbooks and other belongs.  Home now from India for a few months and helping
take care of my sweet granddaughter while Laura is going through the fire academy
( she is a paramedic ), I am enjoying cooking dinner many nights.  Most of my 
recipes are in storage but some I find on the computer.

Tonight, for dessert, I'm making a Pillsbury cookoff favorite of my sons, one I've
made for over twenty-five years.  I always loved the bake-off recipes, quick and easy,
from only a few ingredients.  

This for Chocolate Cherry Bars was created by Francis I Jerzak, of Porter, MN
for the Bake-Off® Contest 25, 1974.  

·         prep time 15 min
·         total time 2 hr 0 min
·         ingredients  8
·         servings  48



Cake Bars

1     (18.25-oz.) pkg. Pillsbury® Moist Supreme® Devil's Food Cake Mix
1     (21-oz.) can cherry pie filling
1     teaspoon almond extract
3     eggs, beaten


1   cup sugar
1/3   cup milk
5      tablespoons margarine or butter
1     (6-oz.) pkg. (1 cup) semisweet chocolate chips


·         1    Heat oven to 350°F. Grease and flour 15x10x1-inch baking pan or 13x9-inch pan. In large bowl, combine all cake bar ingredients; stir until well blended. Pour into greased and floured pan.
·         2     Bake at 350°F. until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. For 15x10x1-inch pan, bake 20 to 30 minutes; for 13x9-inch pan, bake 25 to 35 minutes.
·         3     In small saucepan, combine sugar, milk and margarine. Bring to a boil. Boil 1 minute, stirring constantly. Remove from heat; stir in chocolate chips until smooth. Pour and spread over warm bars. Cool 1 1/4 hours or until completely cooled. Cut into bars.


Nutritional information                Serving Size: 1 Bar    Calories  110      Calories from Fat    35

Total Fat      4g       Saturated Fat     1g              Cholesterol      15mg      Sodium     105mg

Total  Carbohydrate    18g      Dietary Fiber    1g         Sugars  14g        Protein    1g
% Daily Value*:

Vitamin A   0%        Vitamin C    0%      Calcium     0%      Iron    4%
1/2 Starch; 1/2 Fruit; 1 Fat;
*Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet.

Thank you, Francis and Pillsbury!!!


  1. I've come here after such a long time; I didn't know you're posting such great recipes too, Carmen!

    Just tempting my taste-buds!

    1. It's so good to see you, Bhavesh. I've loved this recipe for a quarter of a century. You've hardly been alive that long. Megha keeps you well fed and I did enjoy my feast at your home!

  2. Chocolate and cherry! Two of my favorites. Thanks for taking down that ad that blocked everything.

    1. Joan, this has been such a favorite for much of my life...quick and easy, with few ingredients.

  3. I tell everyone that I don't bake. I don't. If I did,we, Hubby and I, would consume the entire cake in a couple of days.

    1. A recipe like this one, Rosaria, is easy to eat in a day - especially when I had three boys at home!

  4. oh yum...these sound delicious...hey i lived in tampa florida for a few years as well..used to love to go down and eat in Ybor City....pretty cool on having a catering business as well....i would eat myself out of house and

    1. Wasn't Ybor City great? I love Cuban food...and The Gasparilla Cookbook is one of my favorites from that era.

  5. That looks good.
    Some times cooking seems like a chore these days. Depends what mood I'm in but I do cook our first courses most days and buy something for dessert.
    Love your header.
    Maggie x

    Nuts in May

    1. The header scene is Villefranche, France, one of my favorite cruise ports. We always take the train from there to Monte Carlo. If I were a millionaire, I'd love to retire there!!

  6. It looks great. I wish I was a better cook. I only make basic things. I usually have to rely on someone else when I want good food.

    1. In the years I was a forensic nurse, I rarely cooked much anymore....being on call made it so hard. I enjoy cooking, though...but, if finances weren't tight, I also love dining out.

  7. Hi Carmen,
    Glad to be able to connect to your blog again!
    This cake looks amazing. I've never made it before but I'm thinking I will very soon.
    xo jj

  8. They do look tempting. Love your header photo!

    1. Pat, I'll bet you've been to my header locale - Villefranche, France. I've only been there on cruise spots for day visits. That and Portofino, Italy are so picturesque, I think.

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